Hawks vs. Devils: Less One Sided than you Might Think

March 14, 2012 in Editorial

This Friday night at 7:15 pm, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks will meet one of the nation’s most storied basketball programs, the Duke Blue Devils, who are lead by Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K). Lehigh, a #15 seed, comes in as a massive underdog, against the #2 seed Blue Devils. Many experts and the wider public don’t give a Lehigh a chance in the game; however, the NCAA tournament is nicknamed “March Madness” for a reason. Crazier things have happened. As the Lehigh University Economics Society blog, Centives decided to show its support for the Mountain Hawks by looking at Lehigh’s chances of shocking the world, beating the odds, and upsetting Duke. Read the rest of this entry →

The Cost of a Supervillain Lair

March 12, 2012 in Editorial, Top

As any good James Bond villain knows, before you start conquering the world you have to have an evil lair to plot and scheme from. After all, where is the fun in pulling off the perfect plan if you can’t laugh about it from a black leather chair in an undisclosed area?

Name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Organisation: SPECTRE

Hobbies: World Domination

Before you start building, you need a location. Now downtown Tokyo is fine or perhaps a charming flat in Brooklyn…. but wouldn’t you prefer a nice est Read the rest of this entry →

Welsh Vowel Tax

March 8, 2012 in Editorial

Reading a sign in Welsh can be quite a painful experience, though we believe that there is post-traumatic help available. Most Welsh words are utterly unpronounceable due to a national shortage of vowels; a running joke on St George’s side of the border is that there is a secret vowel tax in Wales.

Ever eager to investigate, Centives asks “How much is the vowel tax in Wales?”

Uncovering this secret tax that has plag Read the rest of this entry →

Did Iron Man Die in the Avengers Trailer?

March 5, 2012 in Editorial

During the Super Bowl an Avengers spot ran where Loki tells Stark that he has an army. Stark responds that The Avengers “have a Hulk.” In the Avengers trailer released this March, we finally see why having the Hulk on your side makes a difference.

Iron Man is falling out of the sky when the Hulk catches him mid-air: Read the rest of this entry →

How Big is The Matrix?

March 2, 2012 in Editorial

As those who watched the 1999 documentary called The Matrix know, we are all, in fact, trapped in a computer simulation, created by machines to keep our minds docile so that they can harvest our body heat for energy.

While many who saw the film began to re-prioritize their lives and ask if they wanted to escape from the machine and enter a dystopian future, here at Centives it got us thinking: what are the server capacity requirements of running the Matrix?

W Read the rest of this entry →

How Much is the TARDIS Worth?

February 27, 2012 in Editorial, Top

Disclaimer: This is not the cost of making the TARDIS. This is an estimate of how much the Doctor could rent it out for.

That is to say, how much we think that people would pay for it. We’ve decided to go for a year-long hire of the TARDIS, and make a flying guess at what we would expect the market price to be. Roughly.

The easier bits first.

For one, the TARDIS is like a mobile translator. Wherever you go, the TARDIS allows you to speak fluently to local people. We’ve taken that to be equivalent to h Read the rest of this entry →

How Much Does the Batmobile Cost?

February 22, 2012 in Editorial, Top

Batman enthusiasts have always wondered where the caped crusader managed to find some of the snazziest and most sophisticated vehicles ever seen. 2005’s Batman Begins gave us an answer: he simply uses the latest experimental technology from his family business, Wayne Enterprises.

But as The Dark Knight demonstrated these vehicles have a propensity to be destroyed. What does Batman do when Wayne Enterprises isn’t developing some new concept that the Batman can co-opt in his crusade against crime? As long time readers of the comic books know, he simply p Read the rest of this entry →

How Much Would It Cost To Build The Death Star?

February 15, 2012 in Editorial, Top

Building a massive space weapon is all very well, but you have to find the materials to build it with. It’s easy to say that “sure, the Death Star would be expensive” but is there actually enough iron in the Earth to make the first Death Star? Centives decided to find out.

We began by looking at how big the Death Star is. The first one is reported to be 140km in diameter and it sure looks like it’s made of steel. But how much steel? We decided to model the Death Star as having a similar density in steel as a modern warship. After all, they’re both essentially floating weapons platforms so that seems reasonable.

Name: HMS Illustrious

Volume: 28,591.2 m3

Mass: 22,000 tonnes

Scaling up to the Death Star, this is about 1.08×1015 tonnes of steel. 1 with fifteen zeros.

Which seems like a colossal mass but we’ve calculated that from the iron in the earth, you could make just over 2 million* Death Stars. You see the Earth’s crust may have a limited amount of iron, but the core is mostly our favourite metal and is both very big and very dense, and it’s from here that most of our death-star iron would come.

Name: Death Star

Volume: 1,440,000 kilometres3

Mass: 1.08 x 1015 tonnes

But, before you go off to start building your apocalyptic weapon, do bear in mind two things. Firstly, the two million death stars is mostly from the Earth’s core which we would all really rather you didn’t remove. And secondly, at today’s rate of steel production (1.3 billion tonnes annually), it would take 833,315 years to produce enough steel to begin work. So once someone notices what you’re up to, you have to fend them off for 800 millennia before you have a chance to fight back. In context, it takes under an hour to get the steel for HMS Illustrious.

Oh, and the cost of the steel alone? At 2012 prices, about $852,000,000,000,000,000. Or roughly 13,000 times the world’s GDP.**

But then again, you can just take out a loan from the entire planet and then default on them in the most awesome way possible.

(For the record when converting between iron and steel, Centives assumed a medium steel of 99.5% iron)

*Centives erronously reported this figure as 2 billion, not 2 million. Our thanks to commenter Shaun for pointing out this error

**Centives erroneously reported this figure as $8,100,000,000,000,000, which was off by a magnitude of 100. We’d like to thank commenter Ianvl for pointing this out. Despite our original error, the cost of the death star still comes out to be 13,000 times the world’s GDP as we originally reported. Sincere apologies for the mistake.

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How the Texas Rangers helped the Japanese Economy

February 8, 2012 in Editorial

As many know, Japan’s economy has been deeply affected by the 2008 recession, and like most economies, it has had troubles recovering. Major League Baseball’s two time defending American League Champions, The Texas Rangers have helped stimulate the Asian nation, this January, by importing star pitcher Yu Darvish. Texas sent the Hokkado Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Japanese professional league a record $51.7 million in exchange for his services. It seems ironic to call the labor of one man an American import, but many major news sites such as MLB.com and Japantoday.com have described Yu Darvish as a Japanese import in their headlines and they are in fact correct in doing so.

Japan’s exports fell by an incredible 24.8% in 2009. Changes in net exports to the USA decreased by $650 million between 08-09. Thus Darvish’s sale would’ve made a significant impact on the downturn in Japan’s exports. This one man has done an incredible thing f Read the rest of this entry →

When The Fed Stops Laughing the Country is in Trouble

February 5, 2012 in Editorial

The Central Bank of the United States is tasked with the goal of keeping both rates of inflation and unemployment low. This is often referred to as the Central Bank’s “Dual Mandate“. The Central Bank (also known as the Federal Reserve) also publishes detailed transcripts from its meetings after a five year delay. The transcripts show that members of the committee often break out into laughter and Centives decided to look at the incidence of laughter versus the rate of inflation and unemployment during the meetings in an attempt to see which part of its dual mandate the Federal Reserve is more concerned about.

The transcripts (which go back to 1976) show that laughter d Read the rest of this entry →